The Pros and Cons of Permalancing

The Pros and Cons of Permalancing

Are you willing to take the risk of being your own boss?

One of the biggest concerns of employees in the post-COVID world is work-life balance. Most people want the flexibility to work remotely and avoid the hassle of commuting every single day. But how do you achieve that? By freelancing, of course! However, freelancing comes with the challenge of constantly finding new clients. To save themselves the trouble of finding new clients, people have moved from freelancing to “permalancing”. 

Permalancing is like sitting on the fence between full-time employment and freelancing. It refers to a situation where you work for the same employer for a prolonged period as a freelancer but not a full-time employee. It’s the middle ground between finding regular clients and working a dreary nine-to-five job. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Let’s weigh the pros and cons of permalancing before you decide to switch gears and enter this space.

Advantages of permalancing

Besides giving you a steady stream of income, permalancing offers you the freedom to choose your own work schedule. Just like a freelancer, you aren’t bound to specific job hours or work locations. It also saves you precious mental energy by keeping you from unnecessary office politics. What’s more, the rules and restrictions for permanent employees will not apply to you. 

Permalancing can be a great entry point into the company you want to work at. It can help you establish your reputation and get a permanent position somewhere down the line. Having a steady employment history also makes your resume look better and can help you find permanent jobs more quickly than a job hopper or someone with inexplicable career gaps. 

Moreover, much like a freelancer, you aren’t bound to a specific company. If you have the time and energy to pick up more work, you can have an infinite revenue stream. If you have a steady number of clients, you can increase your rates and get a raise quicker than a full-time employee. 

New opportunities with new challenges 

Despite the positives, all is not bright and sunny in the lives of permalancers. Sure, unlike a typical freelancer, permalancers get a regular salary with an ongoing contract, but they don’t enjoy any work benefits a company offers, like healthcare or paid leave. When a permalancer wants to take time off, they have to organize their work schedules accordingly to ensure they can finish their work on time. 

Some permalancers might be okay with sacrificing work benefits for more freedom and flexibility, but such a mindset can be dangerous. For instance, permalancers can be victims of exploitative practices, such as not being paid for overtime work or even the minimum wage. Also, companies don’t have any firm commitments to permalancers. Having a permalancer simply means they can end contracts without the usual complications (like paying unemployment) that the company would face when firing a full-time employee. It means you can lose your source of income at the employer’s whim. Moreover, since a permalancer isn’t working with a company full-time, they cannot even join labor unions to fight for their rights. 

Additionally, the term permalancing or, as some companies call it, “full-time freelancing” has been riddled with controversy. In 2019, digital publications Epicurious and Medium came under fire for listing jobs with full-time hours but for interdependent contractors. The main critique was that the companies were misclassifying employees to avoid paying taxes and benefits. 

How to permalance smartly

All the negatives mentioned above are not to scare you away from permalancing. Instead, if you are considering permalancing, you need to do it smart. For instance, don’t just work with one client at a time so that you don’t end up at the mercy of a single employer. You can be in trouble if the client goes bust or starts cutting your hours. Having more than one client can keep you financially secure and protect you from overly depending on a company. It also gives you the option to quit a job if an employer’s demands are getting out of hand. 

Today, a lot of job listings are for permalancers. More than 28% of the workforce of an average enterprise company is made up of non-permanent employees. However, before you sign up for such opportunities, you must carefully read your contract to ensure you don’t end up working under exploitative conditions. Try your best to make sure that the company you choose to work with has a healthy work environment and does not set unrealistic targets for its employees, full-time or not. 

Ultimately, this space is best suited for those with an entrepreneurial bent of mind. While it means working with no days off, you are your own boss and can set limits to your work hours and clients. All you have to do is be up to the challenge of finding the right places to work. 

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Header image courtesy of Unsplash


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